The Science of Parenting

Learning to Adapt | S. 3 Ep. 7

September 17, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 3 Episode 7
The Science of Parenting
Learning to Adapt | S. 3 Ep. 7
Show Notes Transcript

Adaptability takes shape in numerous ways. For kids who are planners, it’s following a schedule and setting them up for change. And for the adventurous types, it’s giving them a long leash to explore. Try these tips to tap into your child’s natural reactions.

Send us an email: [email protected]
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research-based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs, parent of three in three different life stages. One's launched, one's in college, and one is in high school and I am a temperament educator and we are still in season three. We were able to launch this season. We were very excited and we are still very excited. I think it's taking us forever to get through all the traits, but I love every single minute of it. I just want to get to some, you know, the traits that we have later on or the goodness of fit, you know , anyway, that's all later.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I would say nine traits is a lot. But each one is like so good on its own. And we, couldn't not, we've got to cover each of them.

Lori Hayungs:

Each one gets their own special time. Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And then we have these other tips, like trickled in topics, right? Sleep. Oh, sleep is such a good one. I love that one, but we've got so many good ones still coming.

Lori Hayungs:

We do. And today we are going to be talking about adaptability. So just a quick reminder about what temperament is and what it isn't before we start. Remember temperament is our predisposition to how we react. It's inborn, it's genetic. And it was with us from the very beginning of life. It's our behavior and it goes way back to the beginning. And how is it different from personality? Well, think about temperament as the foundation. And it is from that foundation that we begin to layer on top things like our growth and development, our personality, how people react to us, where we grow up in our environment. So we start with temperament and layer everything on top of that. And that's the thing is, temperament's always been there.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And it's always going to be there. Right? So yes, we are really digging in, right. We like to look at things with this lens of research and reality. And so we're using that research to explore these nine temperament traits and other things about temperament. In particular today, we're exploring that adaptability, but these temperament traits do come from the research from Thomas and Chess, as well as Jim Cameron and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente. And they have been tracking temperament with thousands of kids over the last 30 plus years. And so what we know is that every kid and adult got all nine temperament traits. It's just a matter of figuring out how much of each we got. Did you get a little, did we get a lot? Did your kids get a little, did they get a lot? And so yeah, if you want a little more refresher on those nine traits and the resources that we have, how you can figure out where your kid's temperament fall in these continuums , we have that over on our website scienceofparenting.org. You can go check out those temperament resources but for today, like Lori said, we're talking about adaptability, which is the irony of the hiccups we've had trying to get to the place to give you this podcast on adaptability. There was weather issues and internet issues and all of these things. And the irony of it is not lost on us.

Lori Hayungs:

It was truly one of those days where we could not have worked on adaptability more. We really couldn't. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. So here we are finally recording our podcast on adaptability.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So ready need to share it with you.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes! Let's look at how we define adaptability when it comes to temperament. So I want you to think of it this way. Adaptability is about shifting from activity to activity. We call those transitions. So how quickly do children react to changes in their schedule or routines. Think about an entire day when you think about adaptability and transitions. Literally all day long from the moment we open our eyes, we are transitioning from one place to another, one person to another, one activity to another. And so transitions are happening constantly. And as we talk about this temperament trait adaptability, that's what I want you to really think about is changing from one thing to the next, one person to the next, one activity to the next. And Mary Sheedy Kurcinka really talks about adaptability as one of those key traits when she talks about that parent-child power struggle.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. Thinking about those transitions, right? Getting from pajamas into our clothes, getting from bed to the shower, all of those things are transitions. And because as adults, you know, we've had all these experiences, whether we're less adaptable or more adaptable, but we've had experiences to navigate the world with our temperament. And so we have those skills and so they help us get through our day. Our kids are still kind of in that like, right, I've used the word raw, right? Their raw temperament brain. They don't have all the experiences and skills that we do, which means whether they're highly adaptable or less adaptable means they could use some help. Right. They could use a patient adult who can help provide some calm and some understanding as they do move from bath to bed and play to supper. And I mean, a big one also, a big transition is school to home, right? There's totally different norms and rules. And all of those things are a part of that transition and that change. So it does take some patience from adults. It does. So as we think about this definition, right, that they give us in the research of adaptability. I was just like, they're like, what do you think of in your own words? What are the things that come to mind for you when you think of adaptability?

Lori Hayungs:

So we chatted through this and so much is a definition. As much as I can hear myself saying, when I feel adaptability kick in, whether it's my adaptability or my child's adaptability, I feel it and I hear the words come out of my mouth, because I said so. And I've just think, okay , when I feel a resistance to adaptability, those are the words that come out of my mouth - because I said so.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hmm . I can't give you a reason because I said so.

Lori Hayungs:

Just because. Yes, exactly .

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think of those words like that transition. When we're getting ready to go from one thing to the next thing or one place to the next place and I think about that transition. As well as if there's a change to how things normally go. I think that's also part of adaptability. But the question I kind of ask myself when I think about how adaptable am I or how adaptable, you know, someone else might be is how easy is it for me or somebody else, if what is expected changes, right. Oh yeah. So like I was expecting this and now the plan is different. Is that an easy thing for me? Or is that a difficult thing for me? Or sometimes I might even say it's an energizing thing. I'm highly adaptable. And so, but yes, I'm getting in too far, but yeah. So lots of different ways to think about adaptability. I think that transition and that I love your , when my resistance to adaptability kicks in, I might say because I said so.

Lori Hayungs:

Because. Stop asking me why.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I don't want to talk about it. Yes. Oh, funny. So let's talk a little bit about this continuum of adaptability, right ? Whether we got a little, or whether we got a lot. One thing we should say as we think about adaptability, it's important to mention , what we're talking about on our podcast is temperament. And we're talking about this trait of adaptability. We are not talking about a medical diagnosis of ODD or oppositional defiance disorder. One does not necessarily equate to the other. So talking about temperament, let's look at when, you know, kind of this variation of normal, right. Anywhere on the spectrum of adaptability is considered normal. But can we talk a little bit about some of those extremes, Lori ?

Lori Hayungs:

Sure, absolutely. So let's start with the less adaptable child, a child on lower end of the continuum that just didn't get as much adaptability as everyone else. And the bottom line here is that these kids just need time to adjust. They need time to shift, they need time to prepare to make that shift. And if we think that we can teach them to be spontaneous, I mean, honestly you just have to be prepared to, you know, bang your head against the wall then their entire life. At its core it's genetic and they got this. Now we can teach them how to deal with this, but for those kiddos on the lower end of adaptability, they truly find change extremely challenging. And they're exhausted at the end of the day because they have been transitioning and transitioning and transitioning all day long.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. I love that so much. I think that is so insightful. And hearing you say that, I think of my family members and my friends that may be less adaptable and just like, yeah, they've been adapting all day. So by the end of the day, that makes so much sense. Like all these transitions throughout the day end up exhausting when you're less adaptable.

Lori Hayungs:

And they're really your natural planner. And so when things don't go as planned or as they planned, or as they saw the picture in their head when they woke up in the morning, it's exhausting. And so, you know , we need to teach them how to conserve their energy and how to work through some of those transitions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And yeah, that transition and that change and yeah, hearing you say that I'm like, yes, that makes so much sense. And so, yes. My daughter is actually, her profile shows she's actually on the lower end of adaptability. And I think you guys have heard me say on the podcast that she's a kid with a plan. Like she knows what she wants. She knows what she expects. And so sometimes it can be a challenge for her when things don't go that way and because that is a part of her temperament. We recently moved and so , we've been experiencing a lot of change and transition in our life in this process. And , for the most part, I think it's just such an example of her adaptability. For the most part, our living room is actually like pretty similar to how it was at our previous home. And there's just like this five shelf bookshelf that was in a different corner than it was the old house, but almost everything else was the same. And she told me one day in the living room and she goes, mom, everything has changed. And she pointed at that bookshelf and she goes the bookshelf is not in the right spot. Oh yeah. She's a kid that notices those details and to her, right, that was a change. Like not only are we in a different house, but the bookshelf has changed, it's different. And so I was actually preparing to kind of, we hadn't really settled on how the living room was set up. It was just kind of where it ended up and so I was planning to rearrange some stuff anyway, and I was like, you know what, that's something I can meet her where she's at. Right. For me, the change feels refreshing and energizing, but she's having a hard time with a lot of the other changes we're having. And so this is somewhere I could kind of meet her where she's at with her lower adaptability. And so, yeah, thinking about all that change is just exhausting to her and that makes things hard .

Lori Hayungs:

You were willing to move a piece of furniture because if you think about, had you left it there, every time she transitioned into that room, that'd be just another little ... in her energy. And so sometimes we can be so adamant that something is going to be our way when really, you know, in the whole grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter at this point where that bookshelf is. I don't know, in some people's minds maybe and other people's minds will be like, well, just move the bookshelf. Right. Right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and based on your own reality, right? I'm not saying, oh, everybody should move the bookshelf . Like, no, but it made sense for us. I was already planning to rearrange some of those things a little bit. I'm like, this is something that we could compromise. You know, I can meet her where she's at with this. She's already experienced a lot of change in a lot of other things.

Lori Hayungs:

Awesome.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So let's talk about this more, highly adaptable because that would be where I would fall.

Lori Hayungs:

So the other side of the spectrum is the child that is highly adaptable. And this child may be curious. They may be attracted to newness and this newness includes their attraction to people and things. So they might be risk takers. They might be adventurers. They might seek out novelty and quickly tire of repetition. And remember each end of the continuum has important things to consider. And this highly adaptable child, they might need someone to help them kind of stop and think about things before they'd go off too fast.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm trying to hold in my laughter because this resonates with me a lot. And I even think of myself as a kid that yes, I'm ready to jump into things feet first. Oh, change, something new or let's try something in a different way. Or yes. I even think of the example for myself of like running errands. That is a thing that's like, I'll hop in the car, we'll go do dah, dah, dah. I don't mind that kind of stuff. And for a long time, I thought this will be so fun with my daughter. We'll hop in the car and we'll have a little day date doing these things. For me, that's energizing. For her, she does not like it. And so we would get in the car and I was thinking like, we're going to have this fun little date and it was not fun. And it was not fun for her, you know, getting in and out of the car. And we don't really run errands together now, you know, with everything going on in the pandemic, you know. But especially when she was littler, I thought that was the thing we would enjoy doing together. And that's not fun for her. With her adaptability, getting in and out of the car and those things, that's not fun for her.

Lori Hayungs:

You led us right into that area of how do we think about ourselves and our adaptability and those things that are different from our children's adaptability? Are they the same? Are they different? Yesterday we were recording and like we said, we had some big challenges and in the middle of all this, my college aged student was wondering, you know, what time were we going to be recording so she could be very quiet. And I kept changing the time. It was easy for me to change the time. It was easy for you to change the time. For her, she was frustrated with us because we kept changing the time. And you know, the thing about our temperament traits is once we recognize what our temperament is, it's not an excuse for us to just behave that way because of our temperament. You know, there was no way that we could change what was happening. And so I had to help her figure out how to deal with a less adaptable temperament .

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah . And bringing those skills.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Exactly. There are going to be times where we have to buck up against our temperament and figure out a way to get past it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And so, I guess as you think about your family and where you guys kind of fall on this trait of the continuum, where would you say you guys are at?

Lori Hayungs:

I definitely am more adaptable than my children. I'm more adaptable than all three of them. Out of the three of them one of them is more adaptable than the other two. I think I have one on each area of the continuum. We think about the low, the middle and the high. Yes. And there are times where, boy, I know that we've butted heads against each other, against the wall, because we're the same and we're different.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Right ? Absolutely. So I tend to be on the higher end. My son is probably a little more in the middle and then my co-parent, my husband and my daughter are both on the lower end. You know, Lori, you did assign for me to take those profiles and I did, and I'm loving the insight that we're getting from them and understanding each other. But one thing that was really interesting for me and this trait in particular was so my daughter being on the lower end , when it comes to my son, I assumed that he was like very adaptable because he's more adaptable than my daughter. And I could kind of feel that out was my guess. But when we were talking through that, I was like, I was surprised he wasn't as adaptable as I thought, and our writer Barb pointed out, okay, but your frame of reference is your older child. And so it helped me realize I'm likely to overestimate, you know , that adaptability or even other traits too, because my frame of reference is my older child was the standard in my head. And so if you're more adaptable, oh, you must be so adaptable. Okay, actually you're kind of more in the middle. So I think that frame of reference, as we think about that continuum is significant. And I even think about, I like to rearrange the furniture. I mean, I'm talking about moving the bookshelf and stuff, but to me that was something that I would do growing up with my mom and my siblings. Rearrange something and it was so energizing. The space felt fresh. And I did not understand for a long time when my husband would be, can we just leave it? But it feels so good when it's rearranged. And he's like, no, it doesn't.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh my goodness. And you know, I think that is so important to recognize, what's your frame of reference and the fact that you thought he was so very adaptable when really, they are going to be times as he grows up that you maybe all of a sudden think, well, why is he being this way? Because I thought he was so adaptable. This is a great way for us to bring in developmental milestones. Right? So as children grow, they're going to be times when, because of their age, they're literally working on some developmental skill and as they learn new skills, they're going to be tapping into their temperament to work through those skills. So we might appreciate a certain part of their temperament, in this case, adaptability, more as an infant and that same exact temperament trait and the level that they're at, we may not appreciate it as much as they grow into a different age and a different milestone.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And I think about these different milestones and adaptability at different ages, that my second child was my easier, easier baby. You know, but I tend to kind of assign that meaning of, oh, a good baby, right. Which isn't really fair. Right. That's not a helpful label. We don't want to assign good and bad. You know, versus a child who maybe is less adaptable and we might use words like difficult or inflexible and those labels of whether it was good or bad, it's not helpful. One, for a child to hear that their basic temperament is good or bad, but also the way that we think about them. Right? And that at this age, you know, we might really value this, you know, when we think this is a great trait, as an easy baby. And then as they get older, all of a sudden it's a concern instead of something we think is great. And so assigning that good and bad is just not helpful. And it's something to reflect on, I think, for myself and other parents of how do we talk about those labels with our kids is so important. Because we know they'll look different at the different ages, right? Yes. Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

Let's walk through a couple of developmental milestones through the ages. So if we think about infants, we think about the milestone they're working on is really that idea of developing trust with their caregiver. And so a less adaptable infant, they're going to struggle with being passed around at a family gathering. Everyone wants to hold the new baby. And there is that idea that, well, babies just naturally want to be held by caregivers. Right? But if they're working through this development of trust and they're less adaptable, they're not going to want to be held by many different people. And you know, the first two people might have that cozy cuddly snugly baby. But that third person, you know, might get the crying. And sometimes as parents, we feel this shame that our baby isn't easily held by other people. And that's not necessarily it. It could just be that they're not as adaptable.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I think about sometimes family members that our role as parents can be to advocate, you know, understanding that our baby, it's not that our baby doesn't like you, it's that, well, when grandma and grandpa get here, they want to hold them. And then by the time you're here, they've been passed and that's hard for them. There's nothing wrong with your baby. And there's nothing wrong with your family member or friend.

Lori Hayungs:

I literally remember, I don't know if you remember this or not, but I remember coming to your door when your first child was born and I had waited and as I got to the door and I was going to come in and visit with you and see the new baby for the first time, you were going to offer for me to hold her and you said, and I remembered the face that you had and you said, but she might cry and you felt so badly for me. And I thought, you know what? No, that's okay. You can hold her. And now look at her four years later and we think, yes, guess what? She's just not adaptable and that's okay. But I remember seeing your face, and you being so sorry. Like you had to explain. That word advocacy is so important.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, Lori, my heart! I did, and I do think so many of us experience shame over our kids' temperament that we shouldn't, right? Like it's nobody's fault, and it's not good or bad because it's going to look different, right. That less adaptable might be a challenge now, but we're going to value it. Right? Cause it's going to look different at different times. Let's start moving up that scale into that toddler, preschooler age.

Lori Hayungs:

The toddlers and preschoolers, they're really working on that independence away from us. And they're trying new things and you know, the toddlers are me, mine. I do it. Right? And so you talked about getting in and out of the car and that whole idea of autonomy, I'm going to take care of this myself. And so a less adaptable child, boy, that getting in and out of the car, it takes a lot energy because they want to do it every time by themselves. I've got this. I've got to put my seatbelt on. I've got to click this and I've got to rearrange my coat and now I've got to climb down. And so it gets exhausting and it is. I want to do it myself, but I'm trying to balance this temperament trait of less adaptable in it and I'm wiped. So I'm going to have a meltdown right here in the parking lot.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Versus that more adaptable child, the running errands, the hopping out of the car might be an exciting day.

Lori Hayungs:

Energizing.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Or, oh my gosh, mom, I have no energy left to try to control all these emotions I'm having.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Alright . So let's think about what's going on with the school aged child. So the school age , how they're working on being more competent at things , mastery of skills. And as they prepare to go to school that day, they walk in the room and there's a substitute teacher, or there is a student teacher and suddenly that whole plan in their head just goes out the window of how am I going to master my math skills today with this person who, I don't know. I need this or this. I was planning on having this success today, this great accomplishment. And now my adaptability has kicked in. I don't feel like I can master this, you know, that less adaptable child. Ooh . They might struggle that whole day in school, that whole week in school, whenever that lead teacher is new versus the more adaptable child, you know, they might get bored with their same teacher all day. We've gone over and over this math set for days. I've got it. Okay. And so that adaptability can, you know, maybe cause some behavior problems for the child who is very adaptable and gets bored with all that repetition.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I even think of like a substitute teacher or a different adult leading the classroom. For the more adaptable child, it's like almost getting hyper and getting over the top, getting themselves in trouble because it's like, oh, this is an exciting day . And like kind of all of those going off of like, wow, okay.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly, exactly. So the last to look at then will be the preteens and the teens and the developmental milestone they're really working on is those friendships. And how do we get into social groups and thinking about the less adaptable temperament trait, you know , that might cause problems in friend groups, because they may not always be willing to go out and do something new. They enjoy doing the same thing because it's comfortable and they know what to expect. Versus the child who's more adaptable. Now, remember they might be that adventurer, that risk taker and so they might need the adult to step in and confine their identity because the adult has to say, okay, but wait a second. What are the risks in this? So those power struggles are in both cases for both ends of the continuum are real when it comes to teens.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and I even think of, you know, like, okay , you're hanging out with your friends after a basketball game, you know, or something like that. And thinking like, okay, we were hanging out at the game and then like, I'm going to go home or maybe I was planning to hang out with so and so, and that very adaptable so, and so was like, oh, hey, let's all... And whether that feels like an easy thing, you know, whether it's like, Oh, we're going to change the plans, whether that feels good or doesn't feel good, that can absolutely cause some struggle with your friends, which is of course a really hard thing for a preteen and a teen who's, you know, really developing that social identity.

Lori Hayungs:

For sure. Remember we talked also about learning to respond. So when we think about learning to respond to a child's natural temperament , the original researchers, Chess and Thomas, talked about goodness of fit. And it's that idea of learning to understand what they come with so that we don't blame the child or even ourselves. And when we look at that goodness of fit, it really helps us to bring out the best in both of us. And it might actually even make our job easier and ultimately learning about, and beginning to really understand, temperament, it can help us prevent behavior problems. And so look again at the adaptability of your child, of your own, you might not be surprised if they're similar or you might not be surprised if they're different and it's about beginning to navigate that that is essential to that idea of goodness of fit.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And the word that comes to mind when you talk about Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talks about the power struggle with adaptability. I think of the word clash, like the clash that can come in and this clash might be that you're different, right? That I'm highly adaptable and my child's not, or it could be that we're the same, right? That we're struggling because we're similar. And we're trying to prevent even unconsciously, because of my temperament, I experienced this kind of difficult thing as a kid. And I don't want you to feel that way or I have shame about this. And so thinking about all those things, you're too similar to me. I don't want you to have that and it can cause a clash.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. But our writer, Barb, as she was talking through this episode with us brought up this question that I just love as we think about adaptability and the goodness of fit. So she says, when we're looking at the behaviors of our children, thinking about transitions and change, do we view their behavior from a lens of annoyance or from a lens of exploration and learning. And so as I think about developing that goodness of fit with it. I love the things she says. Do we think about, you know , those transitions and change. And maybe if we are having that power struggle around those transitions, we know a lot of kids are prone to that transition time being hard. Do I view it as like, why are you being difficult? Or I almost think of the scientific method of I'm observing and understanding. Okay, it seems like every day at bedtime, we're having a hard time. Or I'm observing at the end of the day, you're exhausted or by supper time or viewing those things of like, oh, you really dive in head first to this stuff, you know? And so recognizing our own lens and how that can affect how we parent. How we develop those skills and that goodness of fit with our kids' temperament and our own.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Is that clash maybe coming from our own experiences and our lens of, well they're being difficult or they're a bother or learning to explore and understand this.

Lori Hayungs:

I love the idea that we're looking at the whole day and how transitions really begin to wear us out because what happens at the end of the day, you know, dinner, homework, and the big conversations, you know, bedtimes , those types of things. And so when it comes to adaptability, how many more power struggles do we have after work, after the five o'clock hour. And so really beginning to think about that lens, is there a way that we can look through a different lens? I'm not sure if it was you or if it was Barb has now captioned this phrase, but what's wonderful?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So it's one of the classes we've taught about temperament. Yeah . What's wonderful about either end of the spectrum so we can shift that lens. What's wonderful about this trait , even if it looks different at different ages and we might value it differently or have concerns about it. What's wonderful about it? Okay. So on the lower end of the continuum, the child that's less adaptable. What might you say is wonderful about that child and this trait?

Lori Hayungs:

So a less adaptable child. What's wonderful about a less adaptable child? They are thoughtful. We're going to take it all in first. Purposeful because remember they're the natural planners. I would say they are deliberate because of that plan that they have. And I would also say that the less adaptable children are insightful because they've taken the time to really think through things. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, you stole some of my words that I was going to say. Because yes, I had this idea of being a planner , absolutely. What I think of is like, I know what I expect in the day and how we're going to move forward. But I think also that pensive, that thoughtful. You know, like the transitions and how the day's going to go. And then , the other word I had was just prepared, right? Like this is the thing we're going to do next. And I think that might be kind of a natural skill we build with our less adaptable kids. They learn to be planners because that's how they navigate the transitions. Exactly . So what about the higher end of our spectrum? Actually, I have a favorite word.

Lori Hayungs:

You can use it first.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I asked you and then I'm like, oh, I actually have something that I want to say. My favorite word for highly adaptable is spontaneous. Yes . Yes I do. I think that is an empowering way. Sometimes we won't use the word like flighty or flaky and it's like, okay, an adaptable kid. They're spontaneous. They are energized by the change. Sorry. Okay. What words do you have now that I took my turn?

Lori Hayungs:

I would add flexible and creative possibly as well, because they can catch things that other people might miss because they quickly decide to go after it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. I tend to think of like the go with the flow. Absolutely. Yes. Like going with the flow or even like an early adopter, oh, I could handle this change. I'll jump right in. I'd be willing to test that out for you because I'd enjoy it, you know, that'd be a fun thing for me. And so there are always assets and liabilities, but that lens of whichever end of the continuum your child is on, that lens of there are wonderful things about this and I want to see it as a gift. Right. I want to see this as a gift because I want to value this in them .

Lori Hayungs:

So are we ready to think about it in terms of our own reality and our tools?

Mackenzie Johnson:

So as listeners, as parents, yourself, you know, okay, so you've learned lots about adaptability. Maybe you've kind of been trying to start to identify where your child falls in one of the extremes, or more in the middle and it's like, alright , I need to think about how I parent and the skills that I have. We have some really great tips from the Raising Your Spirited Child book, right? Mary Sheedy Kurcinka shares great tips with us.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes she does. Especially because she keys in on adaptability as one of those places where that child parent power struggle happens. And so I want you to play along with me. So I want you to think of a power struggle between you and your child that centers around the fact that you two are different in terms of adaptability, you two in particular. Okay. So transitions around the adaptability. And so I'm going to use some words and I want you to think about if you had utilized these tools, these techniques , how might that power struggle have ended differently? So the first idea we have here from Mary's book is using words, and next is allowing time or giving a forewarning, helping to deal with the disappointment , establishing routines, needing closure, and working together. So using words, allowing time, helping deal with the disappointment, needing closure and working together. Yes. Which none of those things match up with my definition of, because I said so.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So what do you tend to like, because is said so. Oh, maybe it's not helpful if I just say that. That's not that helpful. But it is a power struggle that is kind of frequent in our house might be, or where adaptability comes into play, bedtime. My co-parent and I take turns on who's putting which kid to bed. And so sometimes my daughter, less adaptable, struggles with that. Oh, well, I thought I was having so much fun with dad. I thought dad was going to put me to bed and some nights, yeah, my adaptability is like, oh, come on. Let's just go. And because I am highly adaptable, it's fine. Let's just go. But when I take that time to maybe, I know you've been having so much fun with dad. You're disappointed because I'm the one putting me to bed but, okay , let's give dad a hug. Right. Give some of that closure using those words, acknowledging that disappointment. and then one thing we have kind of established , my husband and I use a pretty similar bedtime routine with her. So that part, you know, we're establishing that routine. So that part's good.

Lori Hayungs:

So, in all of that, essentially what you're doing is you're respecting their adaptability. You're not using it as an excuse. You are respecting it. And just the fact that you might say words like I know, or I hear, or even I understand. I mean, that piece is so important. And that first idea of using words and using words that show respect. Essentially, that can begin to bring that power struggle down fairly quickly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. I hear that you were having so much fun with dad and you were thinking he was going to put you to bed. And I'm not saying, okay, fine, Dad's gonna put you to bed instead of me. I'm saying, oh, this is hard. This is different than you expected and I'm going to put you to bed.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. I know you wanted to go outside and play with your friends, but we need to do this now because something came up. Just using words instead of saying, because I said so.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and even I think with like teens, you know, if they make plans with their friends. Highly adaptable, they're like, oh, okay, well, we're just going to change it. We're going to go do this instead. Hold on.

Lori Hayungs:

Dial it back like Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Dial it back. Okay, you were thinking, this is what you could go do. This doesn't fit with what we need to do. You know? And so still using those words, you know, all of those things, I understand, I hear you, you wanted to do this. That's not going to be what we can do tonight. All those strategies work either way. I actually have some phrasing. So with these strategies in mind from Mary Sheedy Jurcinka's book, some phrases that we use in our house that I think relate to adaptability. So I kind of want to share those, one in particular, which I think I've talked about before, is asking what's your plan. And so for my less adaptable child, it's about understanding where she's at, if those things aligned, because if I'm going to have to totally change the plan she has, I can anticipate that that might be hard for her. And so by asking, I can start to anticipate. For more adaptability, it might be like, do you have a plan, you very lovely spontaneous child?

Lori Hayungs:

Do you have a plan for how to get home after you have hitched a ride with a friend out to their farm that's six miles outside of town. Do you have a plan how to get home because I'm not coming to get you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh yes. And so what's your plan is one phrase we use that I think is for adaptability. Another one is , actually I use this phrase for myself as highly adaptable. Maybe just not right now. You know that as someone who's highly adaptable and I'm attracted to something new and the change and so I might jump in head first but like maybe this isn't something I should do. And so okay, this opportunity could likely come around again. Maybe just not right now, maybe not right now. And then the other kind of transition phrase that I use a lot in my house is okay, how much time do we need? Do we need a lot of time? Do you need a little time? Do you need three minutes? Do you need 10? And kind of providing that time of, okay, you want 10 more minutes to work on that or to watch that or to play that. And so figuring that kind of stuff.

Lori Hayungs:

If you're a child, 10 minutes might just be three minutes, and it tells whether or not they can tell time. Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. Am I giving you a lot of time or a little time.

Lori Hayungs:

That's great. Well, okay . So are we ready for a question from our producer, the Stop.Breathe.Talk.?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think I can handle it. I think. I can't be that confident.

Speaker 4:

Hey, so sometimes I am right there. I have a question that relates to the conversations that we've had today. I'm going to switch gears on you guys. So we've gotten into a number of temperament traits up to this point. So I want to start to have a conversation on how different temperament traits start to affect one another, right? Because we are not just one temperament trait. We are looking at these in terms of one temperament trait. And you don't have to go too in depth on this. I'm guessing this is more of a Lori question as well, but just an example.

Lori Hayungs:

Why me?

:

Because you're the one who has studied this more and you've taught it more so you might understand it, but I'm sure Mackenzie has great examples as well.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. I know some things.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Okay. I'm not saying you don't, I'm just saying that you're also allowed to go, Lori , this is your question.

:

So just as an example, one of the things that as we were talking through persistence, right? You had said people who are persistent are more stubborn. And I was thinking, well, I'm less persistent, but a lot of people consider me stubborn. And Lori goes, that's because of your adaptability, which I have a lower adaptability. So we start to look at how one plays into another. Do you have any good examples of that? Or just , I guess, good examples of that in terms of like adaptability. We can look at it in terms of adaptability, since that's what we're talking about today, but how does some of those start to play into that?

Lori Hayungs:

So one trait in particular that we have not touched on is are you approaching or withdrawing? And I often tie adaptability to approaching and withdrawing. And I might say it like this. And I also do the same thing with persistence, which we have talked about and distractability which we talk about next week. So if you take those two combinations, so let's look at persistence and distractability. So I'm highly distractible , but I'm also very persistent. So let's pretend that I'm teaching a class and I can hear someone's pen clicking while I'm teaching. I hear the pen clicking because I'm distractable . I hear it. I hear it. I hear it. I hear it. I hear it. But I'm also persistent so I can keep talking and keep teaching.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And you're also adaptable. So you can work with what the situation is even though you're looking at .

Mackenzie Johnson:

And less sensitive, right?

Lori Hayungs:

Yes, yes. And so they all wrap into each other. But when we think about a big emotion that we have, it becomes really important to try to recognize or a big emotion that our child has. If we can pinpoint which trait is really the one driving that emotion, that helps us dial back the emotion. And so if it's persistence or if it's adaptability that is driving this breakdown , this meltdown, this inability to move through the transition, that really helps us then pick our tool. Okay. How are we going to help our child? Yes, their temperament traits are all wrapped together, but right now it's their lack of adaptability that is driving this meltdown to go into the store together. Right .

Mackenzie DeJong:

That makes me think of one of our conversations that we've had on adaptability, specifically, and the fact that, you know, as I'm learning a lot from Lori as she talks through this and Mackenzie , as she gives examples and talks through it. So learning a lot about myself as well, and that pinpointing of why am I feeling this emotion? And for me, I feel a lot of disappointment when people change plans. Like if we make plans, I'm okay. If we don't make plans and we like go with the flow, but as soon as plans are made in advance, and then those plans are like, oh, sorry, I can't be there. I feel that really deeply because I'm less adaptable. And really, until we talked through this, I was like, oh, that would be why. And I've gotten better about telling people like this really disappoints me when this happens, which is adapting to adaptability.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's a skill, right. Navigating with that temperament.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Learning that skill but being able to pinpoint that as well, but also acknowledge that there are a lot of things at play there.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Exactly. One of the things Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talks about in her book, she talks about like, yes, acknowledging that saying to your child, helping them learn you need time to adjust to change. Like it's helpful for you to have time to process this or recognizing your first instinct is going to be no, thanks, to that change. And recognizing that your first instinct might not be the instinct you end up with. And so she talks about some of that. I'm like, oh my gosh, that is so insightful. I love that so much. And I think part of what I hear when you say Lori , like figuring out which tool, I also think of figuring out what your child might need to hear from you, right? As you think about using your words, like, you know, if my daughter was talking. The other day they were out, my co-parent and my daughter were out playing ball in the backyard. And then it was like, Hey, I come in and I'm like, Oh, it's bedtime. I'm like, sorry. And it was like, okay, do you need to hear that? Are you needing to finish the task? Are you needing some adjustment or forewarning because of your adaptability, right. Is the plan different because you thought dad was putting you to bed? And so I'll understand, like you're disappointed that things aren't going that way because of your adaptability, you're disappointed that you know, that this isn't what you thought was going to happen. Or, and I think , yeah, pinpointing that trait at play can help you also help your child, diffuse them. Okay, you do understand that this is hard for me because of this.

Lori Hayungs:

And now that you know temperaments, what have I said? Now that you know temperaments, you're in charge of utilizing it to build stronger, more positive relationships. So, one thing that I know I do very intentionally is when I hear someone's adaptability create that block or that barrier. No, I don't think this is going to work. And I'm not picking on Kenzie.

Mackenzie DeJong:

She's picking on me.

Lori Hayungs:

When I hear Kenzie say, no, I don't think this is going to work. I don't argue with her anymore. I don't say, Kenzie , you're wrong.

Mackenzie DeJong:

She's learned that I need time to process. Patiently wait.

Lori Hayungs:

I might smile and I might listen. I might nod my head. Like, okay, let's just wait. And I know enough about Kenzie and her ability to look at the bigger picture that if it's really a change that we do need to make, she'll see it, she'll see it, but I don't need to argue with her about it. So I don't need to argue with my child because they just needed time. So later on, we're going to talk about this behavior reaction cycle and how we react to that first no, or that first I'm not doing that that our child gives us. We can't react to our child's negativity or their attitude because when it comes to adaptability, we now know temperament. So we have to recognize in time, it could be a very short amount of time, they're going to come around and change that no to a yes. So how about we allow them that space. We will win.

Mackenzie DeJong:

So, the funny thing about this conversation is I feel like I asked one question. I don't know what it is, but I asked one question and somehow you answered another question I had on my list. I was going to ask about that relationship because we do have different adaptability and how we kind of work through it. And you answered that too.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You also understand our temperament, that my instinct might be like, I had this idea, look at this wonderful idea. And you're like, let's take some time to think about this idea, right? It's not that one person's temperament always leads us in the right direction. We balance each other out.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Right. Mackenzie will come with an idea and I go, okay, so let's look at the calendar and I'm not a big planner.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Things you missed, things we need to think about. I'm like, oh, you mean we should have a plan?

Lori Hayungs:

All right . So thank you. There we go. That was our Stop.Breathe.Talk. moment. That space allows us to pause. Think about how does the topic we're talking about maybe sometimes just work in different realities. Thanks so much. I love that when she comes in, I really do love it when she comes in. Even though I'm a little frightened at first.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Are you going to ask me something that I going to go... or am I going to say something competent and together? We don't know.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Totally spontaneous. Good thing we're adaptable.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Good thing. So, yes, we've covered this trait of adaptability today. We're going to keep walking through these traits in our future episodes, going to cover some more special topics related to temperament, understanding how we can parent with our kids' temperament and ours, developing that goodness of fit. So adaptability today, more to come in these coming weeks.

Lori Hayungs:

More to come. Keep joining us and especially thank you for joining us today on our Science of Parenting podcast. And remember, you can subscribe to our weekly podcasts on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. You can also watch us online on our social media and frequently, depending on the topic, we will take your comments , play around with them live. So, you know, come along with us.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Come along as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality, all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is a research based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to [email protected] and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext.